• To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

    - Buddha
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Zen and The Way of The Motorcycle

Life’s Turning Points Require the Balance of Yin and Yang. That is the Balance of Heart and Head.

Imagine yourself on a motorcycle racing at the breakneck speed of 200 mph and out of nowhere an abrupt left turn appears on the racetrack called LIFE.

Adrenaline is coursing throughout your body; your attention, reflexes and instincts are functioning at optimum performance levels. The task requires a Zen mind: stay in the moment, navigate the turn to avoid losing balance thus avoiding injury, failure and death.

Physiologically this is often how the crucial turning points feel in our hurried and hectic lives. In the world of motorcycling, maintaining momentum along your path at the accelerated speed, just as in our modern lives, requires a skillful adjustment– the balance of two complementary forces to avoid falling over. In Nature this is known as the balance of Yin and Yang.

As the moto-racer you carefully adjust your weight to one side leaning away from inertia’s pull while counter steering the handles to create stability. My partner once explained this counter-instinctive phenomena; he is a skilled motorcyclist and while taking a sharp left turn at a high speed he will lean his body to the left but turns the handles toward the right to maintain stability.

A snapshot of any racer going around a sharp curve at that speed appears unstable when extracted from basic quantities like speed, distance and weight. If the racer puts all his energy and focus into leaning into the turn and ignores the importance of steering away to maintain equilibrium then he would loose control and end up being thrown off course. To lessen injury the racer must let go of the bike, relax into inertia and pray that there are no trees or large rocks in the way. By then it is all in the hands of destiny.

You may want to consider modeling a moto-racer’s precision when navigating a turning point or major decision in your business affairs or personal life. Before reacting learn to embrace any obstacle or major decision with your heart, but to avoid being thrown off course, or worse, being harmed, be sure to steer with your intellect.

The word embrace actually means to press to the bosom; to hug. On the racetrack the rider must lean into the abrupt turn practically hugging the asphalt. And in life when you genuinely accept what has been thrown your way you can choose to embrace it, to press it into your chest, and hold it with the arms of compassion.

When you embrace an obstacle or an uncomfortable moment in your life then you are accepting your present circumstance. This is different than concluding, “this shouldn’t be happening to me,” “they are out to get me” or defensively blaming the situation on someone else’s lack of competence. Those statements and attitudes deny the truth that you find yourself in.

Don’t misunderstand me. Yes, you’re expressing the emotions that you are feeling in that moment, however your emotions are in denial because you’re caught up in feeling that it is not fair or you are blaming yourself or others.

By embracing the circumstance then you allow different emotions to surface that will need to be expressed. Sure, it will still feel like you’re walking across a tightrope without a net or speeding out of control but your new attitude about the situation will help you skillfully navigate to the other side while tapping into the best parts of your intellect. The secret here is in your attitude.

This Wouldn’t Have Happened If So-And-So Did Her Job Right…

If you’re not leaning into the circumstance with an open heart and embracing all the parts then you’re caught up in the past or future. Perhaps you’re thinking that this wouldn’t have happened if so-and-so did her job better or if you went to such-and-such school… These feelings create specific attitudes and those attitudes will dictate how you view the situation and the choices that you make.

It takes courage to accept the present moment. It takes a strong heart to embrace the circumstance with compassion and accept that it is supposed to be there otherwise it wouldn’t have been on your racetrack.

Embrace It All, Now You’re Ready To Be Steered To Action!

Western society has advanced by marrying the thinking mind with action; therefore reward is bestowed on those who can analyze a situation and swiftly make impersonal judgment. The problem is that most make personal judgments that lead only to personal gain without considering the harm that this may cause others.

Incredible progress has come from this, but in light of the financial catastrophe of the last two years and many other similar offenses, so has greed and corruption and with that there is no Heart.

Balance your Head with your Heart and vice versa. This is what it means to be born of this planet. Even if you’re speeding toward your destiny at 200 mph you can skillfully create a world in which you do little harm to those around you and to the ground you walk upon. You can create wealth and cultivate personal peace.

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The Five Elemental-Phases

A Shiatsu practioner must be versed in the functions of the five-elemental phases to thoroughly understand how to work with the body’s energy to encourage balance and harmony.

Each meridian is named after an internal organ. It is important to understand that the function of the specific meridian goes beyond the particular organ function.

Ki energy goes beyond organ function and is also associated with your emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

In an earlier post, I explained how the meridians are either yin or yang. From the perspective of the yin and yang theory it is easy to understand the Chinese view of the Universe. Harmony in Nature is found in the perpetual movement of phenomena.

In this view, yin and yang maintain a balance between one another. Another view of this perpetual movement comes in the balance of the Five-Element theory or Five-Phase theory.

The five-elements (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire) describe the manifestation of ki during a specific phase-like the type of weather during a specific season. Each elemental-phase stands for qualities and correspondences.

The Five-Elements are descriptions of certain qualities that pertain to particular phases of change. The Metal Element is associated with the qualities of Autumn and with the balance between rest and activity. This is reflected in breathing: whether air flows easily from the world into the body an out again.

The Metal Element is associated with the season of Autumn and with the balance between rest and activity. This is reflected in breathing: whether air flows easily from the world into the body and out again, or whether there is a permanent struggle between what is taken and what is given back.

Each elemental-phase can also be understood as an energetic quality of a particular function.

For example, one of the Metal Element’s defining functions is exchange with the environment.

Your physical lungs inhale oxygen, bringing healthy ki into the body and exhale carbon dioxide, expelling a state of ki that is beneficial to plant life.

The large intestine also participates in the elimination of waste from the body. These functions are supported by two meridians of the same name as the physical organs, the Lung meridian (yin) and the Large Intestine meridian (yang).

They are in effect the yin and yang aspects of the same function- like the two sides of the same coin.

Not letting go of emotional pain and issues with the bowels, such as constipation, are commonly seen in individuals with an upset in the Metal Element.

Essentially, the five-elements relate to differing states of ki energy. The elements correspond to certain functions and processes of the body, as well as to certain parts, emotions and physical phenomena.

Through in-depth knowledge of the elements and their corresponding organs, body parts, senses, emotions and symptoms, a healer–trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine–can feel an imbalance of ki in a particular meridian pair and work with the body’s energy to encourage balance and harmony.

Key Concepts & Theories Used In Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a Japanese form of bodywork that works to balance the energy of the Body and Mind. To this end, Shiatsu makes use of the body’s natural energy.

The basic concepts and theories used in Shiatsu are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). They include (but are not limited to) :

Ki Energy

Yin & Yang

Meridians

5-Elements

Imagine Your Body As Land--The Meridians Are Your Body's Main Highways

Imagine Your Body As Land--The Meridians Are Your Body's Main Highways

The aim of a session is to encourage ki to flow harmoniously throughout the body’s energy pathways, known as meridians. The meridians are associated with aspects of the Body and Mind, such as movement and thought.

The meridians are divided into pairs which are yin and yang. And are further subdivided according to one of the five-elemental transformations (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire).

Modern practitioners of Shiatsu continue to deepen their skills in two ways:

– by developing greater sensitivity to the subtle energy, which flows throughout the body and concentrates in the meridians;

– and by using the traditional theories of Chinese Medicine to accurately read the body and assess its condition for treatment.

 Despite its roots in TCM, the general approach and techniques of shiatsu reflects the cultural background of Japan by emphasizing the importance of being connected with and moving from your hara, and the philosophy of modern shiatsu reflects the philosophy of Zen Buddhism with its emphasis on self-understanding and awareness.

For the practitioner, focus and awareness comes from using hara, which is the body’s center of gravity. This is located in the belly. By using your hara you are using the total power of your whole body.

Using your hara requires you to originate all of your movements from your belly area. To be more specific–to move from a point just below the navel which is your body’s central pivot point. This point is called tanden (or dantian in Chinese).

The Japanese term HARA means to be focused in the vital center of self.

The Japanese term HARA means to be focused in the vital center of self.

The concept of hara, anatomically refers to the area below your ribs and your sternum all the way to just above your pubic bone. This part of your body contains many of the vital organs. Japanese culture believes the hara to be the seat of the soul, where self-consciousness is anchored.

From a pathological perspective, people hold emotional stress in their abdomen, affecting digestion and causing other physical problems.

In the west, the shiatsu practitioner receives many benefits, both physically and psychologically, by moving from their hara and by connecting harmoniously with the client.

These same benefits may be experienced by the home practitioner who uses shiatsu exercises and methods as home remedies for prevention of illnesses. Home application of shiatsu techniques can be very effective, however proper assessment of the state of ki and the meridians is essential for professional results.

What Is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu Restores & Balances Energy, Eases Tension & Stiffness, Impoves Breathing & Enhances Well-Being

 

Shiatsu is a Japanese bodywork therapy based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formulated in the 20th Century. Its roots are in many different disciplines, including acupuncture, herbalism, nutrition, exercise and meditation.

There are several styles of shiatsu, all of which incorporate TCM and modern methods of muscle lengthening and joint mobilization to varying degrees. 

As a healing art it is revered as a form of preventive medicine. All styles of shiatsu use the power of touch to bring balance to the body and mind, enable self-healing, and induce relaxation and a feeling of wellbeing.

The word Shiatsu comes from the word shi, which means finger and atsu, which means pressure. Shiatsu technique may also incorporate applying pressure with your thumb, elbow and knee.

A shiatsu session may be dynamic with intense stretches to help release tight muscles or more static while the practitioner meditatively supports areas of weakness. Shiatsu is also regarded as energetic bodywork and the practitioner approaches the human body as an energetic organism.

The heart of shiatsu relies on its origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine; the practitioner uses his knowledge of the network of meridians that energetically support the functions of the internal organs as well as the individual’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. 

Cara Michelle giving a session in Ibiza, Spain.

A Shiatsu session may use stretches to release tight muscles.

In Japan people seek out a licensed shiatsu therapist for health reasons rather than pleasure and it is considered a form of medical treatment. It is important to understand that shiatsu refers to many varying manipulative approaches that are based on the location of the meridians, the acupoints and their functions, bone structure and the autonomic nervous system.

 This is an important difference when compared to traditional Swedish massage techniques that emphasize muscle, lymphatic and blood circulation, bone structure as well as the autonomic nervous system.

Receiving shiatsu regularly monitors the energetic changes that may be precursors to illness and helps by keeping the body and mind flexible and in harmony. Shiatsu is concerned with keeping the body and mind healthy and happy.

Unfortunately, in most cases people seek out a shiatsu therapist after they already have health problems, in which case shiatsu is an excellent therapy used in conjunction with your medical treatment. In the United States, shiatsu is growing as a complimentary therapy to medical treatments. 

“Shiatsu therapy is a form of manipulation administered by the thumbs, fingers, and palms, without the use of any instrument, mechanical or otherwise, to apply pressure to the human skin, correct internal malfunctioning, promote and maintain health, and treat specific diseases.”

The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare 

Balance vs Momentum… Going with the Flow

The movement of an ocean’s wave, from the expanse of the sea to the crest, from crashing against the shore to retreating to its watery origin, is balance according to Nature.

 

An Ocean Wave

An Ocean Wave

It is the advance of energy that appears to reverse force at the very moment it seems to loose stability. This movement is often described as the swinging of a pendulum along a linear plane. In actuality, it is the beautiful movement of energy along an ellipse.

 

The quest for balance appeals to anyone feeling unsatisfied and obsessed by society’s high demands. Somehow through excessive intellectualizing the meaning of balance in life becomes infused with rigid calculation and measurement. The balance sought is not an equal distribution of focus, or energy, on work, family, interests and healthy activities. Isolating an uncomfortable moment in your momentum and concluding that it is out of balance ignores Nature’s wisdom of change.

Balance is expressed in the continual motion of the Earth and reflected in the transformations of Yin into Yang. Balance needs momentum but that momentum of energy may appear to shift direction after it looses stability.  However, this is based on a linear perception of equilibrium, and the fact that energy does not appear to be proportionate does not mean that there is instability in the larger sense. 

In the artistry of vibrational healing, balance is addressed in your bodies, minds and spirits. Our idealized and conservative concept of equal distribution vulgarly confuses the process. The balance that our communities are trying to get a hold of needs to be taught as satiating your greatest hunger for a meaningful life with meaningful pursuits, even if they appear to be completely out of balance to outside observers. Your natural balance needs to gain momentum.

The more synchronized you are with Nature the healthier you will be because balance is the planet’s way.